|Preface||Chapter 24||Chapter 26|
Down Ambon Bay on the deck, past Halong Seaplane Base, Ambon Town, Laha, and Cape Noesanive. Everyone got out, but the 40-mm. that hit here raised particular hell. There was a gunner at that waist gun.
The waist gunner's Mae West. He was wearing his flak suit under it, and although the metal plates were bent and broken, none was penetrated. The gunner escaped with foot and leg wounds.
The other side of the same plane, where shell fragments ripped through the fuselage and splintered the window.
During April, good-byes were said to airmen who, with 50 and 60 missions behind them, were heading home. They were the last of the pilots and crewmen who had flown over the Solomons and Rabaul. None begrudged them their well earned respite from combat.
It was a new Group in the air, but on the ground the same faces and figures were seen, two years older and grayer than when they left home in March, 1943. A few old timers of the Ground Echelon had been rotated, but it was a very few, and repeated announcements of more liberal quotas-first at 18 months and then at 24-had built up hopes which were dashed to the ground when no movement orders followed. However, a new hope was arising, based on news from Europe. The closing days of April found many cars fixed to radios to catch the latest announcements. The fall of Berlin, and with it the collapse of Hitler's regime, was expected daily and then hourly.
Capt. Alton J. Collins, veteran 69th S-2, went home during the month via the hospital route, and Lieut. S. E. Beall took over in his place. The 70th welcomed an old timer when Maj. Thomas R. Waddleton arrived. Major Waddleton, then a Lieutenant, was an early member of the 69th, one of the stalwarts who flew B-26s to Hawaii and participated in the Battle of Midway. Newcomers listened enthralled to the Major's tales of the "old days" which are a part of this record. Lieut. A. F. Schulman bec.ime the 69th squadron navigator, replacing Lieut. C. L. Johnston, who was among those rotated.
In the other squadrons, too, changes were taking place; the old was giving way to the new. Capt. James E. Robison, who had assumed command of the 75th on March 22nd, was now Major Robison; Lieut. R. M. Stratton was now S-3. In the 100th, Captain Burnett became CO on the 8th to hold the reins until Capt. Henry J. Sabotka was ready to take over on the 27th. Lieut. T. M. Cockrell became S-3 in place of the late Lieutenant Orcutt.
May opened with V-E day in the air. To the north Iwo Jima had been taken and turned against the yellow war lords; news of the sanguinary struggle for Okinawa had broken upon the world. Formosa, Hainan, and even the Homeland came under increasing siege from our heavy bombers, while shipping in the Home waters felt the Navy's blows. The Australians were making slow, painful, but telling progress in cleaning the by-passed islands from their Jap infestation.
The 69th deeply felt the loss, on May 2nd, of Lieut. C. S. Rankin and his crew. On a shipping sweep to Sesajap River, Lieutenant Rankin attacked Malinan Town and went down.
The apt phrases of Major DeHorn, XIII Fighter Command S-2, give a neat picture of May lst's operations. "All squadrons of the 42nd Bomb Group contributed planes to make Mitchell presence almost continuous over the Oboe 1 objective area, with two four-plane flights on call in the morning and early afternoon. Tiiese were released with "No Targets," but three later flights were asked to bit buildings and gun positions, and did so, drawing some light fire from Pamoesian."
The 69th drew another one that higher headquarters pulled out of its hat-Lieut. H. D. Hillman had the honor of flying the Group's first "antiseptic mission", leaving two applications of DDT powder along the beachhead so that the Aussies could fight the japs without being distracted to scratch their insect bites. Everybody later got a crack at this "crop-dusting".
The Tarakan job demanded and got more attention, with daily air support missions rendezvousing with the controller over the bay and swooping down to erase trouble spots, sometimes accompanied by P-38's and a
D-Day at Tarakan, Balikpapen, Brunei Bay, the Oboe operations, found Crusader planes rattling around taking pictures and potting targets.
lone Liberator. This work went on until the 5th, with Lieutenant Mahl, Vance, Buchloz, Mechwart, Gill, Hathway, Unruh, Coleman, Haslam, Dwyer, Seller, Tanner, Newsome, Kerr, Phelps, Visser, Davis, Heller, Goodrich, Bryant, Rankin, Callahan, Hanna, Kohlman, Bearman, Wilkerson-new flight leaders from all squad rons-taking turns in front and eliciting "Jolly good job, thanks much" from the clipped-voiced Aussie liason officer.
To use another well-turned phrase of Major DeHorn's on the Ist "The 42nd Group raked potential jumping-off places for red-alerters at Jesselton, Kudat, and Sandakan,
netting a sawmill to boot. A single-engine plane was observed carelessly parked on its belly at Sandakan."
Through early May the Kuching area yielded 2 SDs, 5 luggers, a warehouse, a shipyard, and a barge to Crusader tourists on Borneo's west coast. The 70th's strike to Saigon on May 6th threw another new Crusader into the limelight. The formation, led by Honolulu's Capt. J. A. Thompson, found negative shipping at Saigon and hit Ding Hoa at 1310 with seventeen 500-pounders, putting them all in the target amid 20 warehouses. Smoke to 1000 feet obscured accurate observation. Intense, ac
curate AA from six 20MM guns at the edge of town knocked out Lieut. Robert R. Bethel's left engine. His ensuing trip home resulted in the following lines in 13th AAF's summary:
"700 Miles on One Engine"
... in a five hour and 20 minute single engine flight jettisoning everything he could get loose, the pilot performed the remarkable feat of nursing the cripple back to within 5 miles of Palawan, where a dead stick landing was perfectly executed, his fuel completely consumed. The crew of six escaped with minor bruises and scratches and were picked up by the Cat within a few minutes." Lieutenant Bethel coolly recorded his power settings and other data that might be of use to the next single-engine returnee.
Cpls. Norman Lauck and Ray Tucholski, gunner and radio operator, provided a laugh when they got to the 390th dispensary for a few shots of Doc Meyer's choicest reserve stock, asking what time it was. It seemed they had missed an appointment to sing in the choir at opening services of the Group Chapel, which they had helped to build. They had come pretty close to singing in another choir.
All were not so fortunate on this day, for disaster struck twice. In taking off from Palawan, Lieut. R. S. Williams, Lieut. Harold Lebo and Sgt. George Reinart of the 69th were killed. Flying low over Tarakan Lieut. Harry W. Platt and crew of the 75th were lost when a frag parachute hung in the bomb bay. When the doors were closed the bomb exploded. Only the tall gunner survived the ensuing crash.
On the 9th the 69th, with Lietit. J. E. Knapp leading, was weathered out off Cam Ranh Bay, but smashed the remaining buildings at Itu Aba. The 75th went to Victoria Town to score good hits. Major Waddleton radarferreted to Balikpapan reporting useful observations at Samarinda.
Borneo became our "milk run"-Victoria, Brunei, Miri shipping, leaflet dropping, Sandakan, Cape Mangkolihat radar, Tarakan again for more mopping up, Kudat, Sibu and Brooketon.
The thunder of Allied aircraft engines and crashing bombs rocked the Home Islands of Japan no more than the news of Germany's unconditional surrender on May 8th. News of the capitulation of the once greatest war machine in history came as the battle of Tarakan Island progressed according to plan; as Allied troops moved to within one mile of the capital of Okinawa; as the first great Allied air strikes were launched at Empire installations on the Asiatic mainland; as Japanese troops were being driven from Burma; as the Chinese successfully counter-attacked in western Tunan Province; as Allied searchplanes inaugurated regular patrol of Japanese waters by sinking or damaging 11 ships in the Tsushima-Shimonoseki Strait and off southwest Korea; and as victorious leaders in the West promised that the all-out ,phase against the Pacific enemy was at hand.
Admiral Ernest J. King struck the keynote of the day on the home front in his remarks to Navy civilian workers.
"TO ALL CIVILIAN WORKERS:
"General Eisenhower has announced the cessation of organized resistance in Europe. A thrilled and grateful nation is justifiably proud of all who made this accomplishment possible.
"But this is a total war, a global war. We are but half way to complete victory. There remains to be conquered the entire Japanese nation. Men are still fighting and still dying and will continue to fight and to die in the hard push to Tokyo. . .
"Today every worker should rededicate himself and herself to the task of providing these men with the fire power they need to smash the remaining enemy. To delay, now in celebration of past success would be fatal to carefully laid plans. We cannot-and must not-pause in discharge of our duty so long as a Jap remains a threat to the life of a single soldier or sailor.
"Let each of us get on with our job."
On this electrifying day the 69th sent seven over Labuan, Lieut. T. C. Mahl in the lead, to drop centuries on the personnel and supply area west of the strip. The first of two flights had Major Robison of the 75th and four over Kuching to lay centuries on the Jap Headquarters building and start five fires in the morning. Capt. Henry J. Sabotka and four of the 100th duplicated on the afternoon shift.
The log for the 10th shows fifteen of the 69th and 70th back to Mindanao in support of ground activities at Cagayan Town. A total of 178 bombs and 21,600 rounds were left in the target. Lieut. W. H. Mechwart returned to base on one engine, having been accidental target for another plane's bomb which skipped and damaged his prop. Eight each of the 100th and 390th, Lieut. Ritchie I.. Jones, and Lietit. E. E. Rankin leading, flew the same mission with Tagoloan Town as their objective, while the 75th sent 12 to Tarakan with Lieut. H. K. McElroy leading.
On a Borneo shipping search of the 11th, Lieut. E. G. Bearman bagged a 50-foot barge in Brunei Bay. Four others went to Brooketon, where they strafed a 100-foot tower, and got another SD, a 50-foot launch, and a 50 foot barge south of the town.
Sandakan was given a good pasting by the 70th, 75th, and 390th on the 13th, Jesselton on the 14th, Bintulu and Sibu on the 16th and 18th, Seria on the 19th.
Lieut. C. E. Rich, 70th, contributed a new one to the Group's "Ripley's Odditorium" on the 16th's Sibu mission. Coming in at "rhubarb height," this crew literally went "batty". They stirred tip a cloud of vampires and had to fly through, splattering bats and bat parts all over the plane. Part of the mess melted off the plane from the language used by the ground crew who had to clean up this plane.
Six each, led by Major Waddleton, with Colonel Helmick as co-pilot, for the 69th and Capt. H. J. Sabotka for the 100th, got through weather for a shipping strike at Balikpapan May 20th. Two SD's were destroyed, a
THROUGH DARKEST BORNEO WITH GUN AND CAMERA
Borneo memories will bristle with the names of Crusader targets: Tarakan, Brunei Bay, Miri, Weston (no relation to Capt. Robert), Labuan, Kudat, Belait, Jesselton, Balikpapen, Kuching, and a score of others.
Incidents will be remembered concerning all of them, that hairy-eared 360 at Balik, the tunnel bombing that got the only railroad engine in Borneo, the milk runs to Jesselton, the smoke and flames at Bal;k and Miri, the support missions to Tarakan and Labuan, Berg, Scott & Co.'s unplanned night off Tarakan, and the noisy photo runs over Balikpapen.
barracks area, shipyard, and sawmill at the mouth of the Soember River were bombed and a Fox Tare Able at the harbor pier was seen burning. The month passed busily with strikes to Lawas, Weston, Jesselton, Seria, Kudat, Beaufort, and Tenom. The flat English names mixed with the Oriental rang oddly on ears long accustomed to euphonious Malay polysyllables and unpronounceable Hispano-Tagalog hybrids, but the bomb bay doors opened regularly, and the guns of the new B-25-J2s and J27s spewed regardless of the target's ancestry.
With this strike another name appears in the line of Crusader Commanding Officers. A few days after this Col. Paul F. Helmick took over the Group from Lieut. Col. Harry C. Harvey, who was returned to the States on rotation. Colonel Harvey remained, however, until Colonel Helmick became acclimated, both to the Mitchell and to the tactical situation.
Quiet, efficient Paul Helmick was graduated from Kelly Field in 1936. In October. 1938, be was commissioned in the Regular Army at Mitchell Field. Prior to this he had been with the First Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Michigan.
Soon after he was commissioned, he was transferred to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio into the Engineering Division, where he remained for five and a half years. As chief of the Special Weapons Branch, he was responsible for the experimental work in guided missiles.
Among his projects were those top secret weapons, the Buzz Bomb; the Azon Bomb, which could be controlled in azimuth by its parent plane; and the glide bomb, which Wright and Ordnance perfected.
March, 1943 found him on Temporary Duty with the Eighth Bomber Command, with whom he managed to get in 12 missions before his TD ran out in June. The following February he joined the 15th Air Force in Italy, and by July had accumulated 19 more missions and a Distinguished Flying Cross.
He then returned to Wright, clamoring to get to the Pacific Theatre. On March 4, 1945, he again left the States for Nadzab, three weeks as CO of the 307th Group, and ultimately Palawan and the 42nd.
Early June found the Group and Squadrons under these officers and section chiefs:
Commanding Officer, Col. Paul F. Helmick.
Deputy Commanding Officer, Lieut. Col. Harry C. Harvey.
Executive Officer, Lieut. Col. Theron Whitneybell.
Adjutant and S-1, Maj. Robert M. Clark, M/Sgt. William H. Brown.
S-2, Maj. Arthur G. Taylor, M/Sgt. Phillip H. Meyer, Lieut. Robert L. Smith and Wesley Flora.
S-3, Maj., Thomas R. Waddleton, M/Sgt., Earl T. Nicholson, Capt. Edson Lutes, Jr., Lieut. William E. McLaughlin.
S-4, Maj. Roy B. Harris, T/Sgt. Leroy K. Nelson.
Flight Surgeon, Maj. Carl F. Wagner, T/Sgt. Anthony S. Raia.
Public Relations, Lieut. Marvin C. Wachs, S/Sgt. Harold Bass.
Engineering, Maj. Arthur M. Deters.
Armament, Capt. John E. Morrison.
Ordnance, Capt. William W. Stone, T/Sgt. James P. Wendt.
Dentist, Capt. Robert H. White, Sgt. Russell W. O'Bannon.
Chaplains, Capt. Paul R. Houde and George Ivey.
Special Services, Capt. Carlyle W. McClellan, S/Sgt. Paul M. Gainor.
Air Inspector, Lieut. Col. Theron Whitneybell, S/Sgt. Henry C. Bultman.
Gunnery Officer, Capt. Philip M. Lighty.
Post Exchange, Capt. Raymond Matterson.
What the War Department preferred to call the gasoline-jel bomb, and what we knew as the Napalm bomb, wreaked havoc among the Jap-held Borneo towns, supply dumps, and staging areas. What Napalm hit it burned for keeps.
Awards, Capt. Bill G. Fendall, S/Sgt. Fabian D. Kayser. Weather, Capt. Jacob F. Blackburn.
Photography, Lieut. Raymond L. Proctor, T/Sgt. Leonard Jung.
I and E, Lieut. Lester Sokler, Sgt. Russell Ahlbum.
Communications, Capt. Sol L. Relches, Sgt. J. C. Carltoll.
69TH BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON (M)
Commanding Officer, Maj. Bryce A. Hedlund.
Executive Officer, Maj. Bennett E. G. Prichard.
Adjutant, Capt. Elijah B. Williams, M/Sgt. Robert R. Blackney.
S-2, Capt. Samuel T. Beall, S/Sgt. Don L. Farrell, Lieut. Lloyd D. Berger, Lieut. Thomas R. Piasecki, Lieut. James E. Logan.
S-3, Capt. Richard T. Purnell, S/Sgt. Larry S. Gills.
S-4, Lieut. John T. Daniel, S/Sgt. John W. Cherry.
Mess, Capt. Elijah B. Williams. S/Sgt. Frank E. Matthews.
Trans portt ti on, Lieut. Edward A. Vassallo, S/,Sgt. Lynn R. Johnston.
Ordnance, Lieut. Edward A. Vassallo, S/Sgt. Howard J. Rose.
Engineering, Capt. Earl R. Fitzrelter, M/Sgt. Steven T. Chudzinsky.
Armament, Capt. Norman D. Schussler, M/Sgt. Ferdinand Ashera.
Communications, Capt. Harry W. Stockhoff, M/Sgt. Harry S. Robyler, Lieut. James L. Perrott.
Flight Surgeon, Capt. John W. Anderson, S/Sgt. George Ferland.
70TIl BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON (M)
Commanding Officer, Capt. Robert J. Weston.
Executive Officer, Maj'. Clifford M. Barrow.
Adjutant, Capt. Hubert E. Hall, I/Sgt. Manuel F. Raposa.
S-2, Capt. William D. Trone, S/Sgt. John R. Connell, Lieut. Jack Blake and Robert G. Honeyager.
S-3, Capt. James A. Thompson, S/Sgt. Ralph B. Frank.
S-4, Capt. Herbert M. Bender, S/Sgt. Donald J. Dunn.
Mess, Capt. Hubert E. Hall, S/Sgt. Earl D. Guinn.
Transportation, Lieut. Joseph M. Reiff, S/Sgt. Albert J. Fritz.
Ordnance, Lieut. josepli M. Reiff, M/Sgt. Ralph Patterson.
Armament, Capt. William F. Bell, M/Sgt. William H. Wise, Lieut. Donald J. Van Dam.
Communications, Capt. Earle G. Cross, Jr., M/Sgt. Louie Gunn, Lieut. John G. Anderson.
Flight Surgeon, Capt. Alfred H. Richwine, S/Sgt. Thomas D. Dozier.
75TH BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON (M)
Commanding Officer, Maj. James E. Robison.
Executive Officer, Maj. Charles M. Humble.
Adjutant, Lieut. Clarence D. Ring, Jr., S/Sgt. William H. Paschal
S-2, Capt. Linwood T. Fleming, S/Sgt. Ronald Arnett, Lieut. Joseph W. Bizier, Lieut. Martin S. Levine.
S-3, Lieut. Richard M. Stratton, S/Sgt. Gordon W. Hartford, Lieut. Charles 0. Corwin.
S-4, Lieut. Jack E. May, S/Sgt. John 1. Major.
Mess, Capt. Tom M. Bradshaw, T/Sgt. Ricks T. Pearce.
Transportation, Capt. Tom M. Bradshaw, S/Sgt. Merle Martin.
Ordnance, Lieut. Richard E. Grabenhorst, T/Sgt. Stanley L. Quader.
Engineering, Capt. Arthur F. Bornhoff, M/Sgt. R. John Shadki, Lieut. Kenneth W. Walkoe.
Armament, Capt. John H. Brownell, T/Sgt. Roy Kelton, Lieut. Harlan D. Ray.
Communications, Capt. Harold J. Zahrndt, M/Sgt. C. C. Cunningham, Lietit. Simon M. Kuznetzew.
Flight Surgeon, Capt. John L. Meyers, S/Sgt. Ervin Nehranz.
100TH BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON. (M)
Commanding Officer, Capt. Henry J. Sabotka.
Executive Officer, Mai'. Joseph J. Stephens.
Adjutant, Capt. Albert W. Rinehart, I/Sgt. Jack D. Monasco.
S-2, Capt. Thelmer A. Smith, T/Sgt. Daniel E. Campbell, Lieut. William P. Hurley.
S-3, Lieut. Ritchie L. Jones, T/Sgt. Horace Gray, Lieut. Ernest R. Matton, Lieut. Edwin S. Winslow.
S-4, CWO John F. Pettigrew, S/Sgt. Floyd Crooks.
Mess, Lieut. Guy Kramer, T/Sgt. Wesley D. Strickland.
Transportation, Lieut. Joseph A. Taylor, T/Sgt. Earl A. Collins.
Ordnance, Lieut. Joseph A. Taylor, T/Sgt. Leo E. Graham.
Engineering, Capt. Richard E. Eliasen, M/Sgt. William Slaughter.
Armament, Capt. George S. Good, M/Sgt. John 0. Spinks, Lieut. Clifford E. Cain.
Communications, Capt. Wesley D. Correll, M/Sgt. William E. Norris, Lieut. Robert M. Croumlich.
Flight Surgeon, Capt. Vaughn A. Aviakian, S/Sgt. John Hodakowski.
390TH BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON (M)
Commanding Officer, Maj. Gordon M. Dana.
Executive Officer, Capt. Larl L. Chapman.
Adjutant, Capt. Stelle B. Bush, I/Sgt. Jessie B. Herring.
S-2, Capt. Robert H. Cohn, S/Sgt. Robert E. Bonar, Lieut. Carl H. Fassinger.
S-3, Capt. Carl J. Niederauer, S/Sgt. Tom E. Porter, Lieut. Robert W. Trowe.
S-4, Lieut. Faber Golay, S/Sgt. Lloyd Gaston.
Mess, Lieut. Faber Golay, T/Sgt. Charley Gibson.
Transportation, Lieut. Faber Golay, S/Sgt. Stanley Jablonski.
Ordnance, Lieut. Otto G. Laufer, T/Sgt. Henry K. Taute.
Engineering, Capt. Harry R. Workman, N4/Sgt. Charles A. Horton, Lieut. Victor E. Smith.
Armament, Capt. Robert J. Walker, M/Sgt. Harold H. Cornwell.
Communications, Capt. William F. Bretzke, M/Sgt. William F. Ott.
Flight Surgeon, Capt. Albert H. Meyer, S/Sgt. Adam J. Dolik.
Replacements were always a problem in the 42nd, and with the rotation system operating as it did, there was little use for them. However, one of the best of the army snafus was disclosed by two news stories that appeared side by side, one emanating from the Pacific, one from the Secretary of War's Office.
The Pacific story gravely informed us that men in the Pacific were being rotated as rapidly as replacements could be obtained from the States. The Washington story just as gravely stated that men were being sent as men returning from combat overseas just as rapidly could replace them.
Nevertheless, one man found a replacement. A couple of weeks after Colonel Helmick joined the Group, Maj. Don W. Lyon came over from the Fifth Group to understudy Colonel Whitneybell.
Major Lyon, whose home is in Des Moines, Iowa, was commissioned in the Infantry Reserve in 1933, the year prior to his graduation from the University of Michigan. The war brought him into extended active duty, with tours at Command and General Staff school, and the Army Air Forces Staff school in 1944. He left the States in September of that year.
Strikes to Tarakan and Northwest Borneo occupied the next few days. With Tarakan safely in Allied hands, plans were moving apace for the next two Borneo operations, at Brunei Bay and Balikpapan, in each of which the Crusaders were slated to have an increasingly prominent role.
In preparation for the Balikpapan invasion, orders descended through the chain of Command for low oblique photographs of the entire nearby coastline on both sides of the bay. Briefing for the first attempt, May 22, was probably the most thorough ever held in the 42nd Bomb Group. In preparation for the strike, exhaustive fuel consumption tests had been made in a search for the optimum altitude and power settings.
Including time for the form-up, the total mileage on the round trip would exceed 1,.750 statute miles, a greater distance than the heavies flew when bombing from London. For the "short-legged" B-25s it required astute piloting within narrowly defined power setting limits.
Twenty-eight planes would make the attacks. Four were photo ships, 24 were escorting planes that would bomb and strafe AA positions during the photo run. This last was no light job. There were more than 90 positions that would bear on the planes, plus whatever machine gun and rifle fire that could be developed from positions of opportunity.
Maps and overlays indicating e~ery known position were hung in the briefing room, and memorized by the pilots. Times at each check point and at the Initial Point were hammered home, for B-24s were bombing from high level and P-38s were going to do vertical strafing just before the Crusaders struck. Too early and they'd be flying through the falling bombs from the Libs; too late and the "keep their heads down" effect of the Libs and Lightnings would be lost. At the end of 800 miles of flying, the planes had to be at the I.P. within seconds of the appointed time.
The first attempt aborted on May 22nd. Weather moved in after the planes had already taken off. Most of them hit secondary and last resort targets.
Six days later the mission was flown again. This time it went off as advertised. Just to be certain nothing new had been added by the wily japs it was repeated on June 8th.
After the Balikpapan beachhead was secured, the following news release of the Crusaders' part in the show received wide coverage in the States. Every news service carried it.
HEADQUARTERS, 13th AAF, PHILIPPINES-With
the announcement that the beachhead at Balikpapan is secure, it is now possible to release the story of the part played by a small group of 13th AAF flyers.
Prior to the landings at the huge Borneo oil center, Australian army headquarters asked for complete photographic coverage of the Balikpapan coastline. The brass hats insisted the photo ships fly "not further than half a mile off shore, and at an altitude not exceeding 700 feet."
Balikpapan has the greatest concentration of anti-aircraft defenses east of Singapore. Airmen of the 13th AAF termed the mission a "suicide job", and promptly turned it over to the Crusaders, commanded by Col. Paul F. Helmick, Corvalis, Oregon whose B-25's have bombed, strafed, hounded, and heckled the japs over every important target in the South and Southwest Pacific since Guadalcanal.
Colonel Helmick and his operations officer, Maj. Thomas R. Waddleton, Laramie, Wyoming, decided the job could be done. Since one of its squadrons loaded torpedoes on a B-26 and sank a carrier at the Battle of Midway, the Crusaders have never found a job they didn't think they could pull off.
The mission as planned called for B-24s to bomb from high altitude to upset the city's defenses, for P-38 Lightnings to take care of interception, and for other Crusader B-25s to strafe and bomb the gun positions while the photo-joes, nakedly defenseless, drove straight down the beach "so close we could read the signs on waterfront buildings."
Four planes were set up to take the photos. Two were to cover the crucial east coast, one the west coast of Ballkpapan Bay, and a fourth was to stand by to take over either job in the event one of the other planes was lost.
lst Lieut. William K. Robinson, 951 North Parkway, Memphis, Tenn. piloted-one of the ships; Ist Lieut. Russell W. Phelps, Emelle, Alabama another; and Ist Lieut. Robert W. Berta, West Chester, Pa., rode the left seat of the third.
A couple of proud inventors demonstrate the sheet metal cutter they devised from some old armor plate, a spring, and a few nuts and bolts. Very superior to shears.
The rocket installation shown here was the last wartime addition to the Mitchell's punch. These, plus 14 calibre .50's and a ton of bombs, made the B-25 an outstanding ground support weapon.
Bombs, bullets, and rockets, and all ready for a trip to Luzon.
Their crews were hand-picked. In a pinch, any man in either of the three crews could fly the ship. That included the engineer and radio operator as well as the navigator and co-pilot.
Robinson's crew carried 2nd Lieut. Allen C. Atkins, 1121 Princess Avenue, Camden, N. J., co-pilot; Ist Lieut. Charles E. Mueller, 532 Devant Avenue, Memphis, Tenn., navigator; S/Sgt. Robert D. Blakesley, 1908 College Avenue, Iowa City, Iowa, engineer; and S/Sgt. James F. Doherty, 1645 North Central Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, radio 'Operator.
Phelp's crew carried 2nd Lieut. Longin Sonski, School street, Somersville, Conn., co-pilot; 2nd Lieut. Jack R. Graden, 465 N. Vista Street, L. A., California, navigator; Sgt. John G. Gaven, 74 Ross Avenue, Plains, Pa., engineer; and Sgt. Ralph A. Metz, Jr., 414 W. Princeton Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio, radio operator.
Berta's crew were 2nd Lieut. Peter H. Klaussen, Center Street, Lewiston, N. Y., co-pilot; 2nd Lieut. Keith L. Anderson, 1017 E. 35th St., Tacoma, Washington, navigator; Sgt. Thomas L. Marney, 1512 N. 3rd, Albuquerque, New Mexico, engineer; S/Sgt. Victor R. Mullins, 216 Montclair Avenue, Ludlow, Kentucky, radio operator.
The plan required that the attack be made with split second timing. Every one of the more than 100 planes involved flew from bases more than 800 miles away. Each had to be at, not near, an appointed place at an exact second. If the japs were given a moment or two to recover after the B-24s dropped their bombs, the big Liberators might as well have stayed at home. If the strafers started their run before the photo ships were in position, there wouldn't be any photo ships coming home.
It worked just as everybody "knew it would."
Twenty-seven Mitchells hit the target line at the same
Sudden death in eight efficient packages. The nose armament of the B-25J2
The radio compartment gas tank that, with the half bomb bay tank, made those Balik and China trips possible.
Tent building and remodeling went on constantly. Here three men with hammer and jungle knife add a few creature comforts.
A part of the taxiway and parking area at Palawan. It took weeks of work by the Seabees before things looked like this.
Twenty-three members of the 42nd who had children they had never seen posed for this photo. Between them they had enough assorted photographs to set up a national gallery.
Although the Texas Air Force was never officially recognized, these ground crewmen were always willing to lie their best whenever their State's name was mentioned.
instant. They were so close behind the B-24s that some of them flew through falling debris from the bomb bursts. Twenty-four of the Mitchells, 15 on one side of the bay, nine on the other, came screaming over the Jap positions at housetop level with 24,000 pounds of bombs and 100,000 rounds of ammunition.
The japs, upset by the high level bombing, were apparently caught with their guns down by the 250-mile an-hour Crusader Mitchells. The photo ships completed their runs without even a bullet hole.
Copies of the photographs taken that day were in the hands of every fire control officer in the fleet that pounded Balikpapan. They were in the hands of every beachhead troop commander. They formed the basis of the entire invasion, according to Australian Liaison officers.
Maj. Gen. Paul B. Wurtsmith's only medium bombardment Group received from the Australian forces another of a long list of commendations for an impossible job "well done."
One incident that occurred to Lieutenant Thompson and his crew of the 390th nearly marred the "no loss" record over Balik. Thompson's axis of attack took him directly over Signal Hill, the most strongly fortified position in the area. Furthermore he was covering it at reduced speed to give added protection to the Photo Joes.
Opposite Pier five, and just after an exploding oil reservoir had tossed him up on one wing, a 40-mm shell crashed through the pilots' escape hatch and exploded. Hell popped inside the Mitchell. Fragments severed the left hand of navigator Lieut. Carl Zwierlein. Both Thompson and his co-pilot, Lieut. Edwin A. Boden, were blinded b3 the flash and their flak suits were ripped and torn by the fragments. Sgt. Myal Reeves, engineer, was painfully injured in the back of his lap by fragments and jammed up into the turret by the explostion.
For moments the blinded pilots flew by instinct. Thompson thumbed out the rest of his bombs as quickly as he could. Tall-heavy trim alone took them over Signal Hill with inches to spare. Wild signalling to the rear brought up radio operator Sgt. Robert Theis who took the controls of the careening plane from the blinded pilots.
Reeves rendered first aid to the navigator, with Boden's help. Thompson meanwhile washed his eyes with medicine from his jungle kit and water from his canteen. Finally he was able to take over again, and streaked for Sanga Sanga, where Lieutenant Zwierlein was hospitalized.
From XIII Fitcom came the following communication: "Congratulations on a job well done, to all members of your command who participated in or contributed to the outstandingly successful mission to Balikpapan today."
All the missions flown to Balikpapan after this one were post-climactic.
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